Pole Vaulting Review Snapshot: Sara’s Review

First Impression: I went into pole vaulting scared.  I’ve heard people say “how hard can it be?” but, to me – someone who is as naturally coordinated as a cat having a seizure  – it looked like it would be a challenge.  Researching what was required to be a successful pole vaulter and watching a training session with actual pole vaulting athletes only served to increase my fears of looking like a complete idiot.  But by the end, I loved it! And completely understand what is so addictive about the sport.

We started with a warm up where we ran laps around the gym (easy enough), followed by some light stretching (got it down), and then Ashley – the college vaulter who demonstrated everything before we tried it – and JJ said we were going to try **.  I watched as she did a backward somersault where she ended standing up – and thought “uh oh”.  I managed to do it and thought I was doing well when I heard we were going to the platform which meant doing the same backward somersault 10 feet…or maybe more like 4 feet…in the air and, instead of standing at the end, flipping over a cord and falling onto a padded area.  I will admit that standing there getting ready to try it the first time was my first “Oh shit!  I’m not going to be able to do this – how dumb will I look if I give up at this moment?” I had – but I did it!!  And I am alive to tell the story! The rest of the session broke down all the movements and we practiced them over and over and over before we took the runway.   I was thrilled I even got my feet off the ground in the first session and am happy to report a PR of 4.5 feet…ok, sad to actual pole vaulting athletes but better than someone who has never tried it.

What I Most Liked:   Arguably one of the best parts of pole vaulting are the endless jokes to be made (especially when pole vaulting with someone as widely inappropriate as Maggie) from the common pole vaulting terms like moving up on the pole and hitting the box as hard as you can.  It makes for hours of entertainment.

Beyond that – it’s an activity that works body parts you didn’t know you had.  I thought I had taxed about every part of my body at some point between typical activities like pull-ups, push ups, squats and more obscure tasks like hand stand holds and dips – but I woke up the next morning hurting in spots I haven’t ever before that I didn’t even realize could hurt.  It’s an intense sport.  There is a huge sense of accomplishment in getting each part of the vault down.  It seems impossible when you see it all together but, when you break it into its parts and practice each, it’s actually manageable!

What I Least Liked:  It’s pretty obvious that you’d have to do a lot of practicing to be a good pole vaulter…or even an ok pole vaulter.  I was excited to get off the ground but beating my 4.5 foot PR will obviously take a good deal of work and time commitment…but I’m glad I tried it.

It was…There are two things I heard repeatedly about pole vaulting 1) it takes a lot of thought 2) when you are actually doing it, you can’t think.  I was a bit confused about how the two came together in practice…but I get it now.  I think we practiced each “part” of the vault (there are about 18 different movements you have to put together) about 1,000 times each (give or take 970 times) – and that took a lot of concentration…but, when you get into position, you have to shut your mind of and just go for it and go for it hard (insert Maggie’s inappropriate joke here).  You can’t think through the movements or break them down into their parts or – you just go for it and trust it will all turn out okay…which it does – at least most of the time.  You run hard, run fast, plant the pole and hope for the best.

That kicked my ass:  I’m probably not going to be able to move tomorrow

Will I ever do it again? Probably – unless something better comes along.

Overall I think:  I’m not IN love, but I loved it